Gun Charges and Firearms Lawyers2024-05-24T16:55:33+00:00

In Canada, gun charges are investigated by dedicated ‘Guns and Gangs’ teams on a mission to combat firearm-related crime and keep Canadians safe. It takes the most experienced firearms lawyers to contest these charges, given the attention they receive from the police, the Crown and the courts.

Weapons offences are taken seriously and aggressively prosecuted. If you are being charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, then you should consider retaining a lawyer as soon as possible to defend your rights.

What Is Possession of a Firearm or Weapons?

It is a criminal offence to unlawfully possess a firearm, to possess a weapon knowing that its possession is unauthorized, or to possess a weapon (such as firearms) for a dangerous purpose.

  1. Unlawful possession of a firearm:
    Under section 91(1) of the Criminal Code, it is an offence to possess a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm, or a non-restricted firearm without being the holder of:
    • A license under which the person may possess it; and
    • In the case of a prohibited or a restricted firearm, a registration certificate for it.
  2. Possession of a weapon knowing that its possession is unauthorized:
    Under section 92(1) of the Criminal Code, it is an offence to possess a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm or a non-restricted firearm knowing that the person is not the holder of
    • A licence under which the person may possess it; and
    • In the case of a prohibited firearm or a restricted firearm, a registration certificate for it.
  3. Possession of weapon for a dangerous purpose:
    Under section 88(1) of the Criminal Code, it is an offence to carry or possess a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device, or any ammunition for a purpose that is dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.

What Is a Weapon

Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines weapons as anything that can be used, designed to be used, or intended to be used:

  • To cause death or injury of another person, or
  • For the purpose of threatening or intimidating another person

This definition of a weapon is broad. It includes anything from a pocketknife to firearms.

What Is a Firearm

Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada also defines firearms. A firearm is any barrelled weapon from which any shot or bullet can be discharged and that is capable of causing either serious bodily injury or death to a person. It includes any frame or receiver of such a barrelled weapon and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm. Essentially, any gun or weapon that can fire bullets or projectiles can constitute a firearm.

Firearm Offences in Toronto

The Canadian Criminal Code has multiple offences related to firearms. These offences can be divided into several groups, with the first one related to the use of firearms, the second one related to unlawful possession and the third to trafficking, importing and exporting.

The “use” offences range from careless use, transportation, handling and storage to pointing a gun at someone or using a firearm to commit an offence. Meanwhile, there are 11 possession offences under Canadian law, with the most common ones involving possession for a dangerous purpose, carrying a concealed weapon, unauthorized possession, possession in an improper place or a vehicle, as well as stealing a firearm.

Trafficking offences include manufacturing, transferring, or offering firearms without authorization under the Firearms Act, involving possession for the purpose of trafficking and transfer without authority.

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What Types of Weapons Fall Under Weapons Offences in Canada?

In Сanada, anything used to intimidate, threaten, cause injury, serious bodily harm or death to another person is considered a weapon. Using it to commit an offence such as theft, assault, or sexual assault is always an aggravated factor which can lead to more severe criminal consequences.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Code defines unlawful possession and use of weapons as separate offences with distinct penalties.

The list of weapons falling under the scope of the Canadian Criminal Code includes:

  • firearms, including:
    • non-restricted firearms, such as shotguns and rifles,
    • restricted firearms, for example, non-prohibited handguns,
    • prohibited firearms, for example, handguns with 25 or 32 calibre cartridge or barrels less than 105 mm in length, automatic firearms and other guns specified in the Schedule of Prohibited Firearms.
  • prohibited cartridge magazines and ammunition,
  • instruments or devices such as ‘nunchaku,’ ‘shuriken,’ ‘brass knuckles,’ and other similar devices as specified in respective regulations,
  • any knives with blades that open automatically by various means, including centrifugal force or hand pressure applied to a button (butterfly knives, switchblades, etc.) or by gravity.
  • Any device which can injure or incapacitate a person or animal by electrical charge.

Punishment for Gun Charges in Ontario?

Many firearm charges in the Greater Toronto Area are hybrid offences, allowing the Crown to proceed either summarily or by indictment depending on the seriousness of the criminal case, the presence of other aggravating factors and other circumstances. The penalties for the most frequent offences include:

Possession offences:

Possession for a dangerous purpose If someone is convicted of possessing a weapon or its imitation for a dangerous purpose, they can face up to ten years in prison.
Carrying a weapon when at a public meeting Having a weapon during a public meeting or on the way to such meeting without holding relevant authorization can lead to summary conviction with a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison less a day and/or a $5,000 fine.
Carrying a concealed weapon When someone carries a concealed weapon without proper authorization, they can face a maximum sentence of five years if the Crown chooses to proceed by indictment.
Unauthorized possession of a firearm, prohibited or restricted weapons The offence of unlawful possession is punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison for indictable conviction.
Possession of guns, weapons or prohibited devices or ammunition knowing that possession is unauthorized If someone knowingly and unlawfully possesses firearms, prohibited or restricted weapons, devices or ammunition, the maximum sentence increases up to 10 years in prison.
Possession at an unauthorized place When someone fails to store a firearm, ammunition or prohibited weapon at a proper place as defined by the licence or other applicable regulations, they can face a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
Unauthorized possession in a vehicle Similarly, an unauthorized possession of guns and restricted or prohibited weapons in a vehicle is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if the Crown proceeds by indictment.
Possession of loaded guns or guns together with ammunition Penalties for unauthorized possession of a loaded gun or even unloaded firearms with ammunition that can be readily accessed can amount to 14 years in jail.
Possession of a weapon obtained by committing an offence When a firearm or other restricted weapon or prohibited device is obtained by committing an offence in Canada, the offender faces up to 14 years in confinement.

Use offences:

Using a firearm to commit an offence If someone uses a firearm or an imitation to commit an offence, they can face up to 14 years in prison, irrespective of whether they cause or intend to cause bodily harm, in addition to the penalty for accompanying offences.
Careless use of firearms When someone carries, uses, transports, handles or stores firearms, restricted or prohibited weapons or ammunition without “reasonable precautions” for the safety of others, the maximum penalty can amount to two years in prison for the first offence or five years for subsequent offences.
Pointing a firearm at another person Pointing a loaded or unloaded firearm at someone is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years for an indictable conviction or two years less a day and/or a fine of $5,000 in a summary conviction.

Defending Firearm Charges in Toronto and the GTA

When facing gun charges in Ontario, you need a firearm offences lawyer to help you navigate the Canadian justice system and avoid hurting your chances for a positive outcome through mistakes. A seasoned legal professional with extensive practice in firearm charges will provide robust defence on all stages of the criminal process, including arrest and bail, pre-trial appearances and trial.

Arrest and Bail

If you are arrested for firearm charges in the GTA, the police must tell you about your Charter rights to keep silent and the right to retain a lawyer. You will be in a much better position to defend against the charges if you refrain from speaking with the police after arrest, politely indicating that you intend to exercise your right to keep silent and speak to your firearms lawyer first.

After the arrest, the police may release you or hold you for a bail hearing depending on the specific offence and other circumstances, for example, if you have a criminal record. The officers are obliged to bring you to court for a bail hearing within 24 hours after the arrest or as soon as possible. If you retain a firearm possession lawyer early, they can start working on your release while you are held in custody.

When you are brought to court for a bail hearing, your lawyer will speak to the Crown and propose a bail plan. In many cases, a bail plan involves someone referred to as “surety” who takes responsibility for your release and pledges to pay a certain monetary amount if you violate the bail conditions.

If the Crown has concerns about your release, for example, if they believe that there is a flight risk, if you pose a threat to the public or if your detention is required due to the seriousness of allegations, the prosecutors may contest your release on bail. Your Toronto weapons lawyer will address these arguments, demonstrating to the court why your detention is not necessary and advocating for lesser bail conditions.

Awaiting trial for gun charges

During the pre-trial stage, your firearms and weapons offences lawyer can start developing a defence strategy for your case. Your lawyer will start by requesting a full disclosure of all evidence against you. Since there are certain items of disclosure that the Crown will only release to a legal counsel, having an unauthorized weapons possession lawyer by your side will give you an advantage of accessing all information for a successful defence.

After your lawyer reviews the disclosure, they will negotiate your case with the Crown and the judge during Crown pre-trial (CPT) and Judicial pre-trial (JPT). Once you have retained a weapon offence lawyer in Toronto, you don’t have to be present at CPT and JPT and other pre-trial appearances while the lawyers can exercise their expertise to advocate for you before the Crown and the judge.

At this stage, your lawyer can explore various defence strategies based on your circumstances, including entering a plea agreement. If the charges proceed to trial by indictment, your lawyer will advise you on making an election of the mode of trial.

For indictment charges, you will have the option to choose to be tried in:

  • the Ontario Court of Justice,
  • Superior Court of Justice by judge alone,
  • Superior Court of Justice by jury.

Since making an election of the court can be pivotal for your case, retaining an experienced Toronto weapon offence lawyer is crucial for securing the best strategy for your trial.

Consequences if found guilty

Due to the dangerous nature of firearms, gun charges can lead to serious consequences, including lengthy incarceration and other negative repercussions. Even simple possession of a firearm can lead to jail time, a weapon prohibition order and a criminal record with far-reaching consequences for employment, travel, housing opportunities and social life.

Meanwhile, using firearms when committing or attempting to commit a criminal offence increases the penalty dramatically, with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. When you hire a lawyer for possessing restricted or banned weapons, they will help you understand the potential consequences of conviction in your particular case and work toward the best possible outcome in your situation.

Why Is It Vital to Hire an Experienced Weapons Lawyer?

Facing gun charges in Canada can be a stressful and daunting experience. You do not have to face the criminal justice system on your own. A skillful Toronto all weapons offences lawyer can:

  • ensure that your Charter rights were observed during seizure and arrest,
  • help you navigate the legal system,
  • advise you on your options and available defence strategies,
  • negotiate your release on bail,
  • obtain full disclosure of evidence against you,
  • help make the election of the court,
  • vigorously advocate for you during the trial.

All criminal cases are fact-specific and complex. Hiring a firearms and weapons offences lawyer is your best defence in your criminal matter, significantly increasing your chances of obtaining the most favourable possible outcome. Please do not hesitate to contact Vilkhov Law firearms lawyers for a free consultation about your options and defences in your case.

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Weapon offence lawyer Joel Prajs
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How long will you be in jail for possessing illegal guns in Ontario?2024-05-23T20:11:58+00:00

The crime of unauthorized possession of firearms is a hybrid offence and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison if proceeded by indictment or 2 years less a day and/or a $5,000 fine for summary conviction. When facing charges for illegal guns in Toronto or anywhere in the GTA, you are advised to contact a firearms possession lawyer immediately to mitigate potential conviction.

What are the consequences of a firearms offence conviction?2024-05-23T20:11:17+00:00

The Criminal Code includes offences related to use, trafficking and importing/exporting firearms as well as 11 possession offences related to unauthorized or improper use. Most of them are hybrid offences where the Crown can proceed either summarily or by indictment. In summary conviction, the maximum sentence is two years jail time less a day and/or a $5,000 fine. If the case is prosecuted by indictment, the sentencing is more severe, with the maximum sentence of 14 years in jail for the most serious crimes.

What is a concealed weapon charge in Canada?2024-05-23T20:10:38+00:00

When someone carries a weapon hidden from view without proper authorization, they are committing a hybrid offence presumed by Section 90(1) of the Criminal Code. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison if the Crown proceeds by indictment or up to two years in prison less than a day and/or a monetary penalty of $5,000 for summary conviction.

Are you allowed to defend yourself with a gun in Canada?2024-05-23T20:09:46+00:00

In Canada, you have the right to defend yourself or another person and commit acts that are reasonable under the circumstances, including using guns. At the same time, the decision to use a gun for self-defence should be proportionate to the type of threat, for example, whether the offender uses or threatens to use a weapon, the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the offender and other factors as described in Section 34(1) of the Criminal Code. If you were involved or are facing a similar situation, it is advisable to contact a weapon offence lawyer in Toronto immediately to consult on your options.

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